The Winter of Frankie Machine

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From the bestselling author of Savages (now an Oliver Stone film).

Frankie Machianno, a hard-working entrepreneur, passionate lover, part-time surf bum, and full-time dad, is a widely recognized pillar of his waterfront community. He is also a retired hit man. Once better known as Frankie Machine, he was a brutally efficient killer. Now someone from his past wants him dead, and after a botched attempt on his life, Frankie sets out to find his ...

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The Winter of Frankie Machine

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Overview

From the bestselling author of Savages (now an Oliver Stone film).

Frankie Machianno, a hard-working entrepreneur, passionate lover, part-time surf bum, and full-time dad, is a widely recognized pillar of his waterfront community. He is also a retired hit man. Once better known as Frankie Machine, he was a brutally efficient killer. Now someone from his past wants him dead, and after a botched attempt on his life, Frankie sets out to find his potential killers. However, the list of suspects is longer than the California coastline. With the mob on his heels and the cops on his tail, Frankie hatches a plan to protect his family, save his life, and escape the mob forever. Then things get really complicated.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Elmore Leonard fans who have not yet discovered Winslow (The Power of the Dog) will be delighted by his fourth thriller with its sympathetic antihero. Frank Machianno, a retired mob hit man known as Frankie Machine as a tribute to his efficiency, has put his past behind him and is living a tranquil life in San Diego running a bait shop and supplying restaurants with linens and seafood. When the son of a local mob boss asks for his backup in resolving a dispute with the Detroit mob, Frank agrees, only to find that he's been set up as the intended victim of a hit. Using his survival skills and street smarts, the executioner follows a trail of bodies to identify which of his past crimes has caught up with him. While the plot is familiar, Winslow has created plausible characters and taut scenes of suspense that will keep readers turning pages. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Violent scenes from the life of a West Coast wiseguy who's spent his whole life yearning for the simple things. Frank Machianno sells bait and tackle, supplies fish and linens to the restaurant trade and serves as the silent partner in a property-management firm. But although his jobs pay his ex-wife's alimony and keep his high-maintenance girlfriend in comfort, they're not enough to send his daughter Jill to medical school. So he reluctantly accepts $50,000 to provide negotiating authority and backup for the injured parties in a disagreement over the financing of porn videos. When the meeting turns into a setup, Frank's left running from his old pals, wondering who he can trust and who wants him dead. Frank recalls how he worked as a gofer for a mob boss whose wife got caught in a territorial dispute that started with sex and ended with gunfire; how he hooked up with legendary button man Frank Baptista and San Diego capo Mike Rizzo; how he shot his first man and all the others who followed; how his friends warred over control of the sex trade; how he met both President Nixon and a fresh-faced young hooker in the days before they came to grief; how he helped his buddy, FBI agent Dave Hansen, extract a confession from a pedophile kidnapper; and how his marriage came apart as the local crime family unraveled under the pressure of an undercover sting operation. Eventually, one of this series of vigorous, disjointed vignettes, clearly inspired by mob movies from The Godfather to Casino, tells Frank who's on his case. A sprawling, anecdotal saga in which the whole, as usual with Winslow (The Power of the Dog, 2005, etc.), is less than the sum of its parts. First printing of 40,000; film rightsto Robert De Niro
From the Publisher
“Smoothly oiled, superbly assembled. . . . A traditional mob tale on steroids.” —The Providence Journal“A gripping thriller. . . . Like his book's central figure, Mr. Winslow is good at what he does.” —The Wall Street Journal“Graceful . . . . Wonderfully imagined. . . . Winslow’s story explodes with . . . gritty realism.”—Pittsburg Tribune-Review“Smart, staccato. . . . A reading experience of sustained intensity, with appealingly sleazy characters and an Elmore Leonard-like snap in the dialogue.” —The Plain Dealer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786174591
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Winslow’s reputation has been steadily growing over the last decade. His previous books are The Power of the Dog and California Fire and Life.

Character actor Dennis Boutsikaris is a frequent television guest star and leading man in made-for-TV movies, perhaps most recognizable for his recurring guest appearances on Law & Order and ER. On the stage, Dennis won an OBIE Award for his performance in Sight Unseen and played Mozart in Amadeus on Broadway.

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Read an Excerpt

The Winter of Frankie Machine


By Don Winslow

Random House

Don Winslow
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1400044987


Chapter One

1


It's a lot of work being me.

Is what Frank Machianno thinks when the alarm goes off at 3:45 in the morning. He rolls right out of the rack and feels the cold wooden floor on his feet.

He's right.

It is a lot of work being him.

Frank pads across the wooden floor, which he personally sanded and varnished, and gets into the shower. It only takes him a minute to shower, which is one reason that he keeps his silver hair cut short.

"So it doesn't take long to wash it" is what he tells Donna when she complains about it.

It takes him thirty seconds to dry off; then he wraps the towel around his waist--of which there's a little more these days than he'd like--shaves, and brushes his teeth. His route to the kitchen takes him through his living room, where he picks up a remote, hits a button, and speakers start to blast "Che gelida manina." One of the nice things about living alone--maybe the only good thing about living alone, Frank thinks--is that you can play opera at 4:00 a.m. and not bother anyone. And the house is solid, with thick walls like they used to build in the old days, so Frank's early morning arias don't disturb the neighbors, either.

Frank has a pair of season tickets to the San Diego Opera, and Donna is kindenough to pretend that she really enjoys going with him. She even pretended not to notice when he cried at the end of La Bohème when Mimi died.

Now, as he walks into the kitchen, he sings along with Victoria de los Angeles:

". . . ma quando vien lo sgelo,

"il primo sole e mio

"il primo bacio dell'aprile e mio!

"il primo sole e mio! . . ."

Frank loves his kitchen.

He laid the classic black-and-white floor tile himself and put in the counters and cabinets with the help of a carpenter buddy. He found the old butcher block in an antique store in Little Italy. It was in tough shape when he bought it--dried out and starting to crack--and it took him months of rubbing oil to get it back into prime condition. But he loves it for its flaws, its old chips and scars--"badges of honor," he calls them, from years and years of faithful service.

"See, people used this thing," he told Donna when she asked why he didn't just buy a new one, which he could easily afford. "You get close, you can even smell where they used to chop the garlic."

"Italian men and their mothers," Donna said.

"My mother was a good cook," Frank replied, "but it was my old man who could really cook. He taught me."

And taught him good, Donna thought at the time. Whatever else you want to think about Frank Machianno--such as he can be a genuine pain in the ass--the man can cook. The man also knows how to treat a woman. And maybe the two attributes aren't unrelated. Actually, it was Frank who introduced this idea to her.

"Making love is like making a good sauce," he said to her one night in bed during the "afterglow."

"Frank, quit while you're ahead," she told him.

He didn't. "You have to take your time, use just the right amount of the right spices, savor each one, then slowly turn the heat up until it bubbles."

The unique charm of Frank Machianno, she thought, lying there next to him, is that he just compared your body to a bolognese and you don't kick his ass out of bed. Maybe it's that he really does care so much. She has sat in the car while he's driven back and forth across town, going to five different stores for five different ingredients for a single dish. ("The sausiche is better at Cristafaro's, Donna.") He brings the same attention to detail into the bedroom, and the man can make, shall we say, the sauce bubble.

This morning, like every morning, he takes raw Kona coffee beans from a vacuum-sealed jar and spoons them into the little roaster he bought from one of those chef's catalogs he's always getting in the mail.

Donna gives him endless crap about the coffee bean thing.

"Get an automatic maker with one of those timers," she said. "Then it would be ready when you get out of the shower. You could even sleep a few minutes later."

"But it wouldn't be as good."

"It's a lot of work being you," Donna said.

What can I say? Frank thought. It is.

"You've heard of the phrase 'quality of life'?" he asked her.

"I have," Donna said. "Usually referring to the terminally ill, whether they pull the plug or not."

"This is a quality-of-life issue," Frank replied.

And it is, he thinks this morning as he enjoys the smell of the roasting coffee beans and puts the water on to boil. Quality of life is about the little things--doing them well, doing them right. He takes a small pan from the rack that hangs over the butcher block and puts it on the stovetop. He lays a thin slice of butter in it, and when the butter just starts to bubble, he breaks an egg in the pan, and while it's frying, he slices an onion bagel in half. Then he carefully slips the egg out with a plastic spatula (only plastic--metal would scratch the nonstick surface, which is something Donna can't seem to remember, which is why she's not allowed to cook in Frank's cucina), lays it on one of the slices, puts the other over it, and wraps the egg sandwich in a linen napkin to keep it warm.

Donna, of course, gives him grief about the daily egg.

"It's an egg," he tells her, "not a hand grenade."

"You're sixty-two years old, Frank," she tells him. "You have to watch your cholesterol."

"No, they found that wasn't true about the eggs," he says. "They got a bum rap."

His daughter, Jill, harasses him about it, too. She just graduated premed at UCSD, so of course she knows everything. He tells her otherwise. "You're premed," he says. "When you're med, then you can give me agita about the eggs."

America, Frank thinks--we're the only country in the world afraid of our food.

By the time the lethal egg sandwich is ready, the coffee beans are roasted. He pours them into the grinder for exactly ten seconds, then pours the ground coffee into the French-press maker, pours the boiling water in, and lets it sit for the suggested four minutes.

The minutes aren't wasted.

Frank uses them to get dressed.

"How a civilized human being can get dressed in four minutes is beyond me," Donna has observed.

It's easy, Frank thinks, especially when you lay your clothes out the night before, and you're going to a bait shop. So this morning, he puts on a clean pair of underwear, thick wool socks, a flannel shirt, an old pair of jeans, then sits on the bed and puts on his work boots.

When he goes back into the kitchen, the coffee is ready. He pours it into a metal go cup and takes his first sip.

Frank loves that first taste of coffee. Especially when it's freshly roasted, freshly ground, and freshly made.

Quality of life.

Little things, he thinks, matter.

He puts the lid on the go cup and sets it on the counter as he takes his old hooded sweatshirt from the hook on the wall and puts it on, jams a black wool toque on his head, and takes his car keys and wallet from their assigned place.

Then he takes yesterday's Union-Tribune, from which he's saved the crossword puzzle. He does it late in the morning, when the bait business is slow.

He picks the coffee back up, grabs the egg sandwich, flicks off the stereo, and he's ready to go.



It's winter in San Diego and cold outside.

Okay, relatively cold.

It's not Wisconsin or North Dakota--it's not the painful kind of cold where your engine won't turn over and your face feels like it's going to crack and fall off, but anyplace in the Northern Hemisphere is at least chilly at 4:10 a.m. in January. Especially, Frank thinks as he gets into his Toyota pickup truck, when you're on the wrong side of sixty and it takes a little while for your blood to warm up in the morning.

But Frank loves the early hours. They're his favorite time of the day.

This is his quiet time, the only part of his busy day that's actually tranquil, and he loves to watch the sun come up over the hills east of the city and see the sky over the ocean turn pink as the water changes from black to gray.

But that won't be for a little while.

It's still black out now.

He turns to a local AM station to get the weather report.

Rain and more rain.

A big front moving in from the North Pacific.

He pays half attention as the announcer gives the local news. It's the usual--four more houses in Oceanside have slid down a slope in the mud, the city auditors can't decide if the city is on the verge of bankruptcy or not, and housing prices have risen again.

Then there's the city council scandal--the FBI's Operation G-Sting has resulted in the indictment of four councilmen for taking bribes from strip-club owners to repeal the city ordinance prohibiting "touching" in the clubs. A couple of vice cops have been paid off for looking the other way.

Yeah, it's news and it's not news, Frank thinks. Because San Diego is a port town for the navy, the sex trade has always been a big part of the economy. Bribing a councilman so that a sailor can get a lap dance is practically a civic duty.

But if the FBI wants to waste its time on strippers, it's nothing to Frank.

He hasn't been in a strip club in--what, twenty years?

Frank switches back to the classical station, opens the linen napkin on his lap, and eats his egg sandwich while he drives down to Ocean Beach. He likes that little bite of the onion in the bagel against the taste of the egg and the bitterness of the coffee.

It was Herbie Goldstein, may he rest, who had turned him on to the onion bagel, back in the days when Vegas was still Vegas and not Disney World with crap tables. And back when Herbie, all 375 pounds of him, was an unlikely player and unlikelier ladies' man. They'd been up all night, hitting the shows and clubs with a couple of gorgeous girls, when Herbie had somehow pulled into his orbit. They decided to go out to breakfast, where Herbie talked a reluctant Frank into trying an onion bagel.

"Come on, you guinea," Herbie had said, "stretch your horizons."

That was a good thing Herbie had done for him, because Frank enjoys his onion bagels, but only when he can buy them fresh-made at that little kosher deli up in Hillcrest. Anyway, the onion bagel-egg sandwich is a highlight of his morning routine.

"Normal people sit down to eat breakfast," Donna told him.

"I am sitting down," Frank replied. "Sitting down driving."

What is it Jill calls it? The kids these days think they invented doing more than one thing at a time (they should have tried raising kids in the old days, before the disposable diapers, the washer-dryers, and the microwaves), so they came up with a fancy name for it. Yeah, "multitasking." I'm like the young people, Frank thinks. I'm multitasking.



2

Ocean Beach Pier is the biggest pier in California.

A big capital T of concrete and steel jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, its central stem running for over sixteen hundred feet before its crosspiece branches out to the north and south an almost equal distance. If you decide to walk the entire pier, you're looking at a jaunt of about a mile and a half.

Frank's bait shop, O.B. Bait and Tackle, sits about two-thirds of the way up the stem on the north side, just far enough from the Ocean Beach Pier Café so that the smell from the bait shop doesn't bother the diners and the dining tourists don't bother Frank's regular fishermen.

Actually, a lot of his customers also hit the OBP Cafe on a regular basis for its eggs machaca and lobster omelette. So does Frank, for that matter, a good lobster omelette (okay, any lobster omelette) being a difficult thing to come by. So if there's one right next door, you tend to take advantage of it.

But not at 4:15 in the morning, even though the OBP Cafe is open 24/7. Frank just polishes off his sandwich, parks his van, and walks out to his shop. He could drive out there--he has a pass--but unless he has some equipment or something to bring in, he likes to walk. The ocean at this time of the day is spectacular, especially in winter. The water is a cold slate gray, heavy this morning with the ominous swell of an approaching storm. It's like a pregnant woman this time of year, Frank thinks--full, temperamental, impatient. The waves are already slapping against the concrete support pillars, making little explosions of white water burst into the air below the pier.

Frank likes to think about the long journey that the waves make, starting near Japan and then rolling all the way across thousands of miles of the North Pacific just to break against the pier.

The surfers will be out in force. Not the spongers, the wannabes, or the kooks--they will and should stay onshore and watch. But the real guys, the gunners, will be out for these swells. Big waves, thunder-crushers, that will crash all along the old spots and breaks, which read like a litany in a surfers' church service: Boil, Rockslide, Lescums, Out Ta Sites, Bird Shit, Osprey, Pesky's. Both sides of the OB Pier--south side, north side--then up along the coast--Gage, Avalanche, and Stubs.

Frank gets a kick just reciting the names in his head.

He knows them all--they're sacred places in his life. And those are just the breaks around OB--go farther up the San Diego coast and the litany continues, from north to south: Big Rock, Windansea, Rockpile, Hospital Point, Boomer Beach, Black's Beach, Seaside Reef, Suckouts, Swami's, D Street, Tamarack, and Carlsbad.

These names have magic for a local surfer. They're more than just names--each place holds memories. Frank grew up at these spots, back in the golden sixties, when the San Diego coast was paradise, uncrowded, undeveloped, when there weren't a lot of surfers and you knew practically every guy who went out.

Those were the endless summers.


Excerpted from The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 19 of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Winslow does it again!

    Another great, slightly off kilter group of characters from the mind of Don Winslow. Get it, read it, you will not be disappointed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    A Entertaining read

    How does it end? You must read it to find out. It was a pleasant surprise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    Highly recommend!!!...a GREAT book!!!

    To put it simply...a fun, fun read...and fast paced...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2011

    $11.99 for the Nook version?

    This is not a review of the book, just a comment on Nook book pricing. B&N expects me to pay $11.99 for the Nook edition while I can order a used paperback for $1.90. Even with shipping, it is half the price of the electronic version.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Don Winslow books

    I started with Savages, which is a favorite of mine now. Then his latest, Satori, which I also liked. Now The Winter of Frankie Machine that kept me going all day today. I'll be picking up more, since Don Winslow writes stuff that I like, and he does it so well.

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  • Posted October 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Superb.

    Likeable main character makes you pull for him throughout the novel, regardless of what he is or was. A terrific read, I couldn't put it down.

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  • Posted July 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Tight, solid book

    Winslow sometimes goes overboard with his characters until they overwhelm the story line. He manages (or had a good editor) to avoid the worst of this tendency in this tight, well-written novel.
    The dialog is crisp and believable, the characters solid (see above) and the plot reasonable. Winslow generally can be depended on for a good novel and this is one of his better works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2007

    WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE ABOUT FRANKIE MACHINE?

    How can you not like Frankie Machine? As he says, 'It's a lot of work being me,' and that's quite true. However, that's what makes him so attractive - he's a persnickety cook who drives to five different stores to get the exact brand of ingredients he wants for a single dish. Only the best for him. He's a man who believes that 'Quality of life is about the little things - doing them well, doing them right.' He's 63-years-old, owns a California bait shop, the O.B. Bait and Tackle. Everyone who knows him loves him. Life is good,. He has time for surfing with a pal, even if some refer to them as geezers, and he hopes to put his daughter, Jill, through medical school. But that is now. Then is something quite different. When Frankie is ambushed he gets away in one piece, but the big question is why? In a series of flashbacks we learn that Frankie was once a hitman for the West Coast Mafia. He was an A-1 assassin, true to the mob code, and true to his word. He never was a squealer, so why aren't they leaving him alone? His memory is darn good and Frankie knows there are quite a few who have reason to want to be sure he is permanently silenced. It's not long before some killings occur and for a while Frankie finds himself running from everyone - the mob and the cops. Don Winslow has created a killer with a very human face, a plot that surprises, and a narrative often filled with humor. Frankie is a true gent and we can't help pulling for him. The Winter of Frankie Machine will be a movie next year starring Robert De Niro, and this reader will be first in line at the box office. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    a reviewer

    Former mob hitman Frank ¿Frankie Machine¿ Machianno was considered the best at his vocation by his peers and his superiors until he retired. He relocated to San Diego, where he opened up a bait shop and sells seafood he catches to local restaurants. Though he sometimes misses his old life, Frank knows that killing people is a young man¿s game with few of his profession reaching retirement age like he has. Still he does an occasional favor for his former associates so he is asked to provide backup during a disputed resolution between the San Diego and Detroit mobs and Frank agrees to do so.. However instead of providing quiet muscle, Frank realizes the scenario is a setup with someone wanting him dead. Though not quite the super Frankie Machine, Frank remains a formidable opponent and begins an investigation into who from his past hired a hit on him while surviving attempts to take him out by killing first. --- Mindful of Bronsen¿s The Mechanic, THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE is terrific tense thriller starring an antihero struggling to survive his past. The key to this action-packed tale is Frank and his adversaries who seem genuine, which makes the suspense that much more intense and intriguing. Don Winslow provides a great tale and the audience needs to set aside time as the plot¿s hook keeps readers¿ attention from start to finish. Harriet Klausner

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    Posted December 11, 2009

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    Posted March 20, 2013

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    Posted October 1, 2009

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    Posted February 11, 2011

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